D&D General Dark Sun Pitch, Free Year 91

squibbles

Adventurer
---Ideas I had while pondering how the Dark Sun metaplot could be saved---

Free Year 91,

Eighty years have passed since the Great Earthquake rocked the Tablelands of Tyr.

The Dragon has descended to earth and sits enthroned astride the mighty realm of Raam. His armies of Dray and Priests of Transfiguration seek always to expand his influence. Great machines of war creep ever closer to Urik, Nibenay, and Draj, impeded by the desperate maneuvers of Humanu the Lion and his crack army. The Tablelands know war as they have not known it in ages.

Tyr’s liberating heroes are long dead—but for Sadira, who yet leads her faction of preservers within the OverCouncil, and who some say is the new sorcerer queen of Tyr. The city is not well. It’s outlying lands suffer greatly from the cruelty of giants and the depredations of raiders, while a privileged hereditary caste of freedmen tyrannizes the city, and the old Tyrian elite schemes to return to the ‘glory days’ of Kalak.

In Gulg, the Oba’s star has waxed. With Raam, Urik, Nibenay, and Draj at war, and her peer-challengers in Balic and Tyr long vanished, the agents of the Oba dominate the central tablelands. From the fortress of Altaruk, her templars tax the Great Road, the Trade Road, and the People’s Road, while granting exemptions to those who swear devotion to the forest goddess and her ideology to renew the woodlands of Athas. The trade houses of the Tablelands increasingly espouse the Oba’s doctrine and are more and more willing serve her interests; her informants are everywhere.

In Draj, a cadre of psions under the aging prophet Atzetuk rule a brittle but growing realm. Their blood soaked cult of sacrifice is gone, and the Moon Priests—now psions, not templars—preach ascetic submission to Tectuktitlay the redeemer. Spanning villages and oases across the Tablelands, their foremost doctrine is resistance to the Dragon’s cult of Transfiguration and its mutation of human beings into reptilian Dray.

But beyond geopolitics, threats new and old benight the region.

A new terror emanates from the Salt Meres of Bodach. Hordes of shambling dead ambush travelers from the Estuary of the Forked Tongue to the Bay of Maray. In daylight, they lie in wait beneath the sands and, in moonlight, hordes of them prowl silently for victims to consume. None know what drives these dead, or how so many of them can pour forth from a single ruined city.

Meanwhile, the shores of the Silt Sea now seem to swarm with pirates, who abduct all victims they find. It is rumored that a pirate king from the Silt Archipelago now dominates Waverly, Lake Island, and Dragon’s Palate.

And as always in Athas, the wasteland expands ever wider, banishing hope and civilization to yet fewer points of light. The once great city of Balic and its dependencies along the Trade Road are gone, laid low by giants and civil strife. South of the walls of Altaruk, only villages and ruins remain.

------

This Darksun setup would take place 80 years after the Prism Pentad but would downplay the events of that series, be ambiguous about what really happened, and potentially ignore elements of the Pentad. It would use the 4e map with the 75 mile key because the societies of the Tyr region are more plausible/verisimilar at this larger scale. Some things the time jump does are:
  • Except Sadira, the heroes of Tyr are long dead and their history has been rewritten by the factions that outlived them.
  • Few people know what happened to the sorcerer kings who are gone. Abalach-Re is known to have been killed in conflict with Tyr, but Andropinis and Tectuktitlay simply disappeared. There are many rumors and speculations about what might have happened but, ultimately, life in the wasteland goes on without them.
  • Cerulean storm—almost nobody knows that it’s there or why it’s there, and it has diminished substantially in size and potency over time. The destructive Tyr storms it causes still go somewhere in the tablelands about once a month, which is too irregular to sustain agriculture anywhere but makes the wastes slightly more livable for people and wildlife in aggregate.
  • The dragon is gone and no longer takes a slave levy, but when Dregoth reemerged most people interpreted him to be the dragon—so the mystery to them is why the dragon has ended the levy and siezed a city in the tablelands now.
    • Dregoth publicly conceals his undeath. Those who have witnessed his undead nature—outside his dray inner circle—still think Dregoth is the dragon, speculating that the dragon was always like this, that the dragon has been degenerated by its own defiling magic, that some event seriously injured the dragon causing it to seek protection behind the walls of Raam, or they simply don’t question it.
    • The end of the dragon’s levy has done a lot to help the region maintain a stable population.
  • The quakes and the great earthquake after the death of Rajaat are over, the great one is still remembered because it’s damage is still visible in the monuments of the cities—but if the earthquakes opened the great rift, no one knows/talks about it and it doesn’t matter to the Tyr region.
------

I would love it if any of you were willing to 'yes and' the premise of a time jump to 80 years after the Prism Pentad, either with your own ideas or expanding on mine. I also have more ideas that I will add to the thread gradually.

I know WotC is not going to revisit this setting, but you're welcome to opine on that here if you like.

Please, though, do not argue about Dark Sun's presentation of slavery here. That has been repeatedly argued over elsewhere and is not a good use of your or my limited time on earth.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Chaltab

Adventurer
I like it. It takes into account the passage of time since 2E, gives us stakes and villains to face, centers a dragon at the head of the villain hierarchy, but doesn't erase everything that came before.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
I like the way 4e handles Feywild and Shadowfell, and 5e can lean into it.

• Positive Material Plane = Feywild
• Negative Material Plane = Shadowfell

These are Fey Crossings and Shadow Crossings respectively.

But this is a "local Feywild", not an infinite one. Only where the water exists, and the four elements are in lifegiving harmony are the ethereal forces healing and vibrant. There are patches of Feywild here and there.

Much of the planet is swaths of Shadowfell, where life in the soil extinguished utterly.

But there is optimism in the new era. Patches of ecologically sustainable water are taking route in places, and even expanding and merging with other patches to form expanses of Feywild.

In a 5e sense, much of the planetary ether is still the neutral Ethereal of the Elemental realms. These two are patches here and there, depending on the elements that exist locally in the Material Plane of the planet.

The luminous watery insectile Avangion are Epic level Fey beings. Likewise the Dragons are Epic level Shadow beings. Dregoth is actually Undead, albeit his supporters are more transmogrified by Shadow, yet alive.


Essentially the Defiling technique is a form of Necromancy. Defiling actually annihilates the Element of Water, analogous to nuclear fission. All Arcanists can destroy Water, to release uncontrolable magical energy (which disrupts the Fey Plane). But only Defilers know a technique to be able to harness and utilize this energy, and they guard this secret technology fiercely.

Player characters can have a Background Feat relating to Dregoth to know how to Defile.

Obviously, Defiling is now strictly illegal, even a capital offense. But Dregoth continues to transmit the Necromantic technology. There needs ways for a player characters to lean into this option, even while criminal.

There are safe ways to use Arcane magic, the Preserver technology. This too is a Background Feat that a player might select.

Most characters use the Background Feat for Psionic traits. But some will use it for Martial traits, vocational training, or other cultural heritages.


With regard to the Shadowfell:

• The Grey = Shadow Border that overlaps and observes the Material Plane
• The Black = Deep Shadow distorted beyond the point it disconnects completely from matter

The Shadow Border is a realm of ghosts, and the places are recognizable albeit gloomy and entropic.

There are Domains of Dread within the Deep Shadow.


There seems insufficient elemental harmony to sustain a Deep Fey yet. But it theoretically can exist. The Avengion, Eladrin, and others populate the patches of Fey here and there. Their Fey crossings are natural places of healing and Positivity.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Maybe there is a way to embrace the Spelljammer "Doomspace" debacle and turn it on its head.

Spelljammer calls Doomspace planet "Fyreen". The natives of Athas in the region of Tyr call their own planet Athas. However, the Pyreens who are a farflung Preserver culture of nomadic Druids and Psions call the planet "Pyreen". Fyreen is a dialectic variant pronunciation. While the planet was in danger, the "crystal sphere" around the Astral wildspace shattered. Spelljammer rescuers initially met with Pyreens, thus their maps and elsewhere also refer to this planet as Fyreen.

The Dark Sun became a blackhole. However, by the time Free Year 91, the Mind Lords figured out a way using a telekinetic technology to pull the planet out of its death spiral into the event horizon of the blackhole. It now orbits safely, while the Mind Lords carefully maneuver it away from the blackhole. There is now a time of rebuilding and hope.

The blackhole recently ignited massive ejectile energy, shining a beam of deadly energy to who knows where, but safely away from its orbiting planets. The ejection is intensely bright. Normally, such ejectile beams only happen for a small percent of supermassive blackholes, the kind that are in the center of a galaxy rather than a solar system. These supermassives tend to be millions of times larger than our reallife sun. But, the fantasy description can "hang a lantern" on the problem and actually say that these "sunspears" dont normally happen the Material Plane to a sun this size. However, the Athasian magic that cataclysmically altered their sun in the first place, caused a new starry "alchemy" (astronomical physics) whose spirits (laws of physics) continue to evade clear divination (not yet fully understood).

Athas enjoys strong celestial illumination albeit not sunlight, per se. Perhaps Athasians call this new lightsource the sunspear, or spear. Possibly, the mages magically enhance this spear.

Athasian natives are now aware of the self-declared "deities" who populate the Astral Plane. But at his point Athasians are sick of self-declared deities. Especially now, there is intense attention to the natural world, and the harmony of the elements is the urgent source of life, hope, and future. The traditional sacred animism of Athasian cultures, including Cleric elemental monism, Druid shamanic communities, and Psion transcendent soul mysticism, continue to flourish and inspire Athas − now more than ever.


The Luminous Ejection from a Blackhole
Supermassive-Black-Hole-Flare-1536x1106.jpg

X7pABPiAR49GEwGfsnJqnc-1200-80.jpg
 
Last edited:


squibbles

Adventurer
I like the way 4e handles Feywild and Shadowfell, and 5e can lean into it.

• Positive Material Plane = Feywild
• Negative Material Plane = Shadowfell

These are Fey Crossings and Shadow Crossings respectively.

But this is a "local Feywild", not an infinite one. Only where the water exists, and the four elements are in lifegiving harmony are the ethereal forces healing and vibrant. There are patches of Feywild here and there.

Much of the planet is swaths of Shadowfell, where life in the soil extinguished utterly.
I tend to be less interested in cosmology where Dark Sun is concerned, since it's largely the 'normal D&D cosmology does not apply' setting, but I think this idea is pretty strong. The fey otherworld exists, but only in places with water and with nature in harmony fits well with the setting themes. So does a shadowy otherworld in places blighted by defiling.

Both planes would be directly gameable, though I'd want to have a reason for them to be relevant, and not just a hat on a hat. I can see the fey otherworld as being a non-euclidean space deep within an oasis that contains something players need and, despite being a positive-ish place, still being actively hostile to them--in the same way druids in Dark Sun shade toward ecoterrorism. I think having Bodach be connected to the shadowy otherworld and maybe a Domain of Dread, as you mention, could be compelling.

I played fy 1000 back in 3E.

Generally I like advancing the timeliness or back to 1991 set.
Interesting. What notable things changed in 1000 years?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I tend to be less interested in cosmology where Dark Sun is concerned, since it's largely the 'normal D&D cosmology does not apply' setting, but I think this idea is pretty strong. The fey otherworld exists, but only in places with water and with nature in harmony fits well with the setting themes. So does a shadowy otherworld in places blighted by defiling.

Both planes would be directly gameable, though I'd want to have a reason for them to be relevant, and not just a hat on a hat. I can see the fey otherworld as being a non-euclidean space deep within an oasis that contains something players need and, despite being a positive-ish place, still being actively hostile to them--in the same way druids in Dark Sun shade toward ecoterrorism. I think having Bodach be connected to the shadowy otherworld and maybe a Domain of Dread, as you mention, could be compelling.


Interesting. What notable things changed in 1000 years?

Basically i based it on the revised boxed set and imagined the planet slowly recovering. Water under the elven bridge, mudflats at Altaruk. New Sorcerer Monarchs though.
 
Last edited:

redking!

Villager
I play the Prism Pentad like it happened, but the "heroes" of Tyr were deceived. They didn't kill any Sorcerer Monarch, nor the Dragon. The Sorcerer Monarch's fled to extradimensional panic rooms and left simulacrums, semi-real illusory duplicates, to rule in their place. The Dragon did the same when the proximity of the Dark Lens began to undo his wards around Rajaat's prison. This accounts for the abysmal performance of the Sorcerer Monarchs and Dragon. At the end of the Prism Pentad, several things have happened in this scenario:

1. Rajaat back in his hollow prison, but the prison is now metaphysically larger due to the vast obsidian cyst it is connected to and will likely not hold him for long. Perhaps as little as a century. Maybe only decades.

2. The Dark Lens has disappeared. Sadira unwisely cast it into a sea of lava, and it was recovered by someone and spirited away. But who?

3. The surviving Heroes of Tyr are forced into telling a monstrous lie. For the stability of the state, the Rikus and Sadira tell the Council of Advisors that King Tithian died fighting for Tyr, to prevent the Dragon taking a levy of Tyr’s citizens. To the surprise of Rikus and Sadira, it turned out that Tithian had several natural born children by concubines. The Council of Advisors selects one of them to be King, and Sadira is made regent.

4. The Tyr region is back to its geopolitical status quo except for Raam. As Abalach-Re leaves her extradimensional panic room, she is ambushed by Dregoth. Defeated, Dregoth puts Abalach-Re in magical chains (which feebleminds her), making her completely incapable of resistance. Dregoth parades Abalach-Re throughout New Guistenal, and tells his dray that the Coruscation has begun. Dregoth keeps Abalach-Re alive, using her lifeforce as a magical battery from which he can draw at will.

5. There are Tyr Storms in the region as presented post Prism Pentad.

6. The Dragon is too busy trying to repair the damage done to Ur-Draxa, and trying to understand what Sadira has done with Rajaat's essence. The Dragon will not be able to turn his attention elsewhere for years, perhaps decades.

7. In Free Year 11, a huge army of undead and a much smaller complement of dray attacks Raam, with Dregoth at its head. The fractious and chaotic defenders of Raam are easily defeated. Every night, citizens are transformed into dray, starting with the most prominent citizens.

8. With the Dragon unwilling to intervene, the Tyr region faces a bloodbath not seen in generations.
 

I would love the metaplot to be continued by new novels but for the current standars the Athasian Tablelands aren't so playable. A D&D setting has to be a "sandbox" than a "snow globe". We need the setting can be customizable according our own preferences, for example adding more PC species (fraals, xephs, maenads, elands, dromitas, syands) and classes (monks, martial adepts, (incarnum) totemist shamans, psionic ardents..).

And if 3PPs created "biopunk tech" you can guess players asking "lifeshape crunch" in their games.

If my memory doesn't fail the Athasian Feywild is "Land-within-the-Wind" and the Shadowfell would be the "Grey-on-Athas".

If I was Vecna I would use the Athasian Tablelands to hide things.

* What if the Athasian spinewyrms were true dragons, even with age categories? But I don't like limbless then.

* I imagine a "Athasian mirror plane" where the blue age didn't end.... in that way. The "brown tide" happened in a different path. In the beggining nothing too wrong, at least beyond a local area, but later the nightmare started, sea creatures were "infected" and altered, something like Junji Ito's horror manganime "Gyo". Later the lands suffered a plague of elemental-touched fungus.

* Other idea is the Athasians not only explored the "Athaspace" but also travel to the next wildspace where they could create new settlers. Of course the troubles started in the age of the "cleasing war" and the arrival of defilers among the refugees. The champions of Rajaat allowed the "evacuation" because this "helped" their goals.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top